Ways To Ease Your Menopause Symptoms
By Jyoti Pachisia
A phase in a woman’s life as her menstrual cycle comes to an end is termed Menopause. Menopause is diagnosed after 12 months of amenorrhea. Women face symptoms of weight gain, mood swings, vaginal dryness, headache, and hot flashes. Menopause occurs in a woman’s life as the levels of estrogen, an important female hormone starts declining.
Generally, menopause occurs in women after 50 years of age. But, many women experience this phase within 40 years of age which is known as Early Menopause. Early Menopause occurs if the woman had pelvic radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or suffered from severe autoimmune disorders impacting the ovaries.
Symptoms of Menopause
1. Menstrual Disturbances (90%)
Periods occur more often or less, last for a few days or more days, and be lighter or heavier for almost four years before menopause occurs. However, women should not assume that missing a couple of periods marks the beginning of the menopausal transition. In facts, in 10% of cases, menstruation ceases abruptly with no preceding transitional period.
2. Hot Flushes (40%)
Hot Flashes or Hot Flushes are sudden feelings of heat in the upper part or all over the body. You might notice red blotches on the chest, back, and arms. Heavy sweating & cold shivering also follows. These are the results of fluctuations in estrogen concentrations. Hot Flashes reduce within five years of menopause.
3. Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms experienced by women during menopause. It affects more than half of women during this phase.
4. Urinary Urge Incontinence and Stress Incontinence
According to a study, Urinary incontinence (UI) affects more than 50% of postmenopausal women. Weakening of pelvic floor muscles causes Urinary and Stress incontinence symptoms. You need to include a few pelvic muscle exercises to combat this health issue.
5. Mood swings
Some women might get mood swings the same way they get during your periods. Many factors affect mood swings like changes in hormones or menopausal insomnia.
6. Weight Gain
Weight gain is one of the symptoms that most women are scared of. They start searching for weight loss techniques as they reach Menopause. Women need to follow a strict diet plan to reverse this symptom.
7. Loss of Muscle Mass, Stiffness, and Pain in Muscles & Joints
Due to the decreased estrogen level, many women find their bodies stiff and painful during Menopause.
The hormones are to be blamed again as reduced estrogen level affects brain functioning. So, do not worry, this is a common symptom experienced by every other woman going through Menopause.
Some women face long-term consequences like Osteoporosis, Ischaemic Heart Disease, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Treatment To Reduce Menopause Symptoms
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is an option if symptoms of menopause are very distressing, but it increases the risk of breast cancer and stroke. You should avoid this therapy unless necessary.
Ways to Ease Menopause Symptoms
Follow these ‘smart’ diet changes that can help you stay fit after menopause and ease menopause symptoms:
1. Fiber up
Eat high-fiber foods like bran, brown rice, barley, quinoa, and millets. You should also include five portions of fruits and vegetables, preferably deep-colored ones (beetroot, spinach, carrot, and berries). These have high micronutrient content, in your daily diet. Experts suggest to take 21 grams of fiber daily.
2. Portion control
The metabolism of middle-aged women is more than 20% slower than that of young girls. Thus, food takes longer to convert into energy and is more likely to get stored as fat. Opting for frequent meals at home and getting your meal packed when dining out would be the best solution.
3. Soya Protein
Soya is high in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are structurally similar to estrogen. Since phytoestrogens have mild estrogen-like qualities, they ease menopausal symptoms. Certain kinds of phytoestrogens, called isoflavones, found in soy products can help out hot flashes and vaginal dryness. Flaxseeds are another source of phytoestrogens. It’s advisable to consume flaxseeds in a powdered form as our body cannot easily break down the whole flaxseeds. Grind some in a spice grinder and add 1-2 tablespoons to cereal or yogurt.
4. Vitamin D and Calcium
Vitamin D and Calcium play a vital role in bone health and are especially important during menopause when the decrease in estrogen makes women prone to osteoporosis.
Women need to include both the nutrients as Vitamin D is required for calcium absorption.
Sources of Calcium that can help improve the calcium status of the body include Sesame seeds, ragi, milk, yogurt, leafy greens, seafood, legumes, etc.
The best source of Vitamin D is Sunlight! Women must ensure that the body is adequately exposed to the sun during the day to synthesize a good amount of Vitamin D. Foods like mushrooms, fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), cheese, egg yolks, etc. do contain Vitamin D . In most cases, additional supplementation of calcium and Vitamin D is required to meet the needs (it’s best to get the levels checked before supplementation).
It’s important to keep a watch on the protein intake to help prevent accelerating bone loss due to osteoporosis. The best protein sources include milk and milk products (organic), chicken, fish, eggs, cereal-pulse combinations, etc. It’s crucial to add at least one of these sources to every meal.
Omega-3 in fish oil has an effective natural anti-inflammatory effect which is important during menopause. This powerful antioxidant also helps preserve brain function including cognitive delay, dementia, and Alzheimer's.Sources of Omega -3: Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), fatty fish, etc.
You can also go for Omega-3 supplementation.
7. Improving Immune system
There is much more to a healthy immune system than just Vitamin C. Zinc, iron, copper and vitamins A, E, C and B-complex can help to maintain a healthy immune system. Inclusion of variety of fruits, dry fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, vegetables is the best way to get an array of nutrients which can help build a strong immune system.
8. Maintain physical activity levels
Daily exercise can help to lift the mood, reduce stress and inflammation, improve the hormonal balance, lose excess weight and widen the thermoregulatory zone in the brain, which makes body temperature fluctuations more comfortable, thereby decreasing the severity of hot flashes and night sweats.
For bone health, include weight-bearing activities like walking, running, calisthenics, and/or dancing, as well as resistance training such as weights, bands, and/or isometrics. Resistance training also helps to slim stubborn belly fat as well as maintain strength and balance, which naturally decline during the aging process.
9. Say “No” to Alcohol and Caffeine
Avoid hot flash triggers such as alcohol, coffee, spicy foods, and hot drinks. More than four drinks (alcohol) per week can also increase the breast cancer risk.
A good diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, protein, and dairy products. This diet may ease out the impact on hormones and make your healthier. And, remember, to include yoga and exercise as well with a healthy diet to stay fir for long-term.
You can always consult a dietitian or nutritionist to get a personalized diet care routine for your health to avoid any severe symptoms and consequences. Your health experts are just a click away.